Here’s a real beastie to tame….

Probably should have done what I’m about to do when I first got it (I reallydid cut it back a lot then, but not just enough. You’ll see) but one is sometimes awed by the amount of work put into a tree that one doesn’t do what needs doing. 

Let’s show some flaws. 

The base is fantastic, great width and it emerges from the soil at a nice angle but that root….

Yeah, that one. It was described by a bonsai friend, Seth, as a penis root. I should let that one go but…..that’s a sorry looking penis Seth, if you’re comparing. 

But that gelding comes later on in our program. Let us continue. 

This is the back (which might become the front by ‘n by). Here’s why they call it a chinese lacebark elm. 

Exfoliating bark. Nothing to worry about. 

Reminds me of the scene in that Austin Powers movie where the guy ate his own crispy skin. I just about puked on that one. Crunch. 

Sooooooo, with that, let’s move on. 

Above, you can see the tree has just about healed over the trunk chop wound. Nice….

About three years ago I took this tree out of the bonsai pot it was in and put it into this training pot. The reason was here: 

Dieback on the main branches. I wasn’t sure why, so I figured it needed some rest and some elbow room. And I also wanted the leader to thicken. So I up-potted it and put it in the back to let it grow. (Here’s a tip, don’t put a tree in the back and ignore it.  You’ll see why in about two photos.)

Awww, it looks like a face!

Like some kind of goblin or Orc. I seem to see faces in this tree a lot. 

Look at the eyes, they’re even a bit evil shaped…..oops!

There’s a little rot, it seems. 

Well, a lot of rot. Looks like it was fire ants that decided to make a home in the trunk. 

That makes my plans actually easier yet less fun. Hold on, you’ll see. 

So that’s a big flaw, what else do I have to deal with? This branch is in the inside of a curve. 

There’s no taper in the main leader. 

Both of which are big problems. The leader is half the tree. 

I sit and contemplate for a bit and then it’s to work, no more foolin’ around. 

I’m not liking this rear branch anymore. Sayonara. 

What now? 

You guessed it. The saw. 

I could have airlayered it. 

That might’ve made a good tree. 

Ah well. 

I think we are getting close. 

I don’t like this. 

I think I can improve the overall taper by removing it. 

And I do need to deal with that rot. It goes deep. 

Before I finish that, I need to look at the roots. I have an idea that this goes all the way to the bottom. 

Remember this root?

It’s hollow too. 

This is where those evil fire ants have been entering the tree. 

Damn them to the fiery pits of hell, for they are devil spawn and that’s where they belong. 

Of course it makes this decision a little easier. 

Looks a lot better, eh? 

Ok, it looks like it’s screaming tree creature. It’s not, that’s just your over active imagination making the stump look like a one. 

This time I’m putting it into an even deeper pot. 

The mix is about 50% perlite and the rest is a mixture of used bonsai soil and regular potting soil. A nice, coarse mix that will hold water but still drain fast. A mix designed for fast growth. 

I also fertilized heavily. I want growth now. 

Here is the original front. 

Depending on what happens, it may not be the front in a year. It’s still pretty good though. 

The lesson: Do the work that needs doing, even if it’s painful, sooner, rather than later. I just added about five to ten years more in development  time to the tree.

 And I didn’t have have hardly any fun at all doing what I just did. I was hoping at least to get some carving in, but noooo, the fire ants did the work for me already. They’re always ruining my fun. There was this one time years ago when my soon-to-be wife and I were outside, under the stars and……suffice to say, fire ant bites in tender areas (the squishy places and the dangly bits, as it were) are not fun at all. It leaves one itchy, sore, and unfulfilled. And waiting forever, it seemed at the time,  for the bites to heal. 

Maybe I’ll work on this hackberry next. 

It has branches I can wire, at least. 

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